By now, you should have heard about government’s decision to ease up the restrictions under Movement Control Order (MCO) starting from this coming Monday, 4 May. During the announcement, PM Muhyiddin Yasin has made a reference to two apps that the government has developed to helped perform contact tracing.
The first one being the MySejahtera app which was the first COVID-19 app to be released by the government. Surprisingly, PM Muhyiddin has also mentioned the MyTrace app instead of the Gerak Malaysia app which has made into the headlines recently in relation to interstate travel.
As it turns out, the app has been made available for download since few days ago. According to the description provided by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI), MyTrace is a Bluetooth-based app that is designed to help authorities detect those that might have been in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
This way, the authorities would be able to get in touch with them through the phone number that will be provided by MyTrace. MOSTI insisted that the app already has security measures in place as it does not store or transmit the geolocation information of the user and it would also anonymized user’s phone number.
Despite what MOSTI has said and while the original screenshot shared by Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also clearly showed just one Bluetooth setting, it turns out that users still have to enable location settings for the app. In fact, the main page of the app clearly asked users to activate both Bluetooth and location function of the phone for MyTrace to work.
Once installed, MyTrace would ask for user’s phone number in order to provide the OTP code to run the app and…that’s about it. Unlike MySejahtera and Gerak Malaysia, MyTrace did not ask for any in-depth details such as name, address, or even IC number.
MyTrace does come with a function that allows users to upload contact data to authorities. However, users are only required to do this if they have been contacted by a medical officer who need to cite a verification code to them. If the code matches with what is stated in user’s phone, only then they should upload the contact data.
In order for MyTrace to work as intended though, users have to leave it running on the background while they are doing other tasks on their phones. For now, MyTrace is only available for Android devices while the iOS version is still on its way to App Store.
Despite the previous statements by Minister Khairy and National Security Council that the authorities are working to combine MySejahtera and MyTrace, you can see that did not materialized until today.
In the end, the public still end up with three different COVID-19 apps from the government which is quite unnecessary even though the functions and intentions behind each of them might be crucial as our life begin to pick up starting from 4 May onwards.